Erasing the memory of a lackluster, scoreless first half and an own goal, England surged to a 3-1 victory over Slovenia on Saturday at Wembley Stadium.
Following Jordan Henderson’s own goal in the 57th minute, Wayne Rooney earned his 100th cap in style by providing the equalizer with a penalty in the 59th, and Danny Welbeck assured the victory with a brace in the final 25 minutes of action.
The three points further strengthens England’s hold on first place in Group E of the European qualifying rounds. Slovenia could slip to third if Lithuania manages to bump off Switzerland later in the day.
Slovenia quickly gave up their lead after defender Bostjan Cesar was booked for blatantly tripping Rooney in the area, and the 29-year-old buried the penalty for the 44th international goal of his career.
From there Welbeck took over. He first rebounded Adam Lallana’s shot from the right wing, and fired a left-footed strike in the center of the box in one motion. Then Welbeck worked the give-and-go with Raheem Sterling to spring himself from the defense and connected the brace with a right-footed shot across the goal.
In Henderson’s case, the blunder that could have greatly cost England, was really more a matter of bad luck than an error. Slovenia’s Andraz Kirm slung a cross from the left wing deep into England’s penalty area, and Henderson tried to head it away but watched it sail into the net.
Overall, it was a solid effort from England's defense. They held Slovenia to four total shots, with only one on target, and forced them into three offsides.